Dear Diva: MOVE It!

By Emmaly Wiederholt

She walks into the studio as if we’re all watching her, which, ironically, I am. This will be my third time taking this particular ballet class, and I’m starting to get a sense of who the divas are.

It’s over 80 degrees outside, yet she dons heavy sweats and garbage bags over her leotard and tights. I know it’s important to keep muscles warm, but seriously? Is this what ballet dancers “do”?

Class begins. Is she whacking her legs around to get warm or to show off her splits? Apparently it’s what ballet dancers “do.”

Center. Did she just cut me off and walk to the front and center of the room? Fine, go ahead. But dear diva it’s not impressive to do a triple pirouette if you can’t land it correctly.

“Get your hip down! Engage your abs! Keep your heels on the ground! Use your port de bras! MOVE!” I scream in my head each time I find her in my range of vision, which unfortunately, is all too often. Am I looking for her at this point? Half these dancers are barely struggling through the combinations, but I don’t mind them at all. It’s this diva who thinks she’s deigning the room with her presence who’s become the thorn in my side.

Grande Allegro. Pique, chassé, jeté en tournant, chassé, saut de chaut, here we go. Oh God. She’s going in my group.

I will out-dance her.

And I do. Why? Because I MOVE. This is dance after all.

After class a promising young student receives instruction from the teacher on her saut de chaut. “Think of keeping your hips level in the air,” he tells her. She practices over and over again.

Oh no. Diva is walking over to her. What’s she saying? I can’t hear, but my impulse is to run over and protect the young student. Don’t take her advice. Don’t idolize this woman.

At this point my dislike toward this woman has clearly turned into a catty feud in my head, of which she is probably oblivious, though I did narrow my eyes at her when she cut me off in the center.

But all pathetic cattiness aside, I take real offense with this woman. She perpetuates a stereotype of ballet I utterly hate. She perpetuates the idea that ballet is all turns and high extensions. She perpetuates the idea that ballet is something to be good at, that the tricks trump the craft. She perpetuates conceit, an unwillingness to acknowledge she’s not the only person in the space, and worst of all, a certain carelessness and lack of intention in her movement.

I’ll be eyeing you diva. And if you ever stop staring at yourself in the mirror, I’ll show you how to dance with intention, with care, and most importantly, I’ll show you what ballet dancers “do.” They MOVE.

Hella Cool Awesome Dancer1

Drawing by Maggie Stack

2 Responses to “Dear Diva: MOVE It!”

  1. Dan

    Emmaly you are way to nice to every confront this diva. But one day you might surprise me! I hope so.

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